I walked into the office building of mom’s work. Through the glass doors was a lobby with a reception area. Behind the front desk was a man with a headphone/speaker set. He seemed to be taking calls. Since he was busy, I ignored him. However, I immediately noticed a problem. I hadn’t asked my mother which floor she was on. As for the name of her business, it was… um… Fukami… no… Fandok… eh… I didn’t know that either.
It was a medical supply place. All I knew was that her job involved the distribution of certain medical devices to hospitals and doctor’s offices. I walked over to the list of businesses on the wall next to the elevator, hoping one of them refreshed my memory. I wasn’t so lucky, and after a minute of looking, I still didn’t know where to go.
“Hey, sweetie, do you need any help?”
The receptionist had finished their phone conversation and had called out to me. I ignored the chill that went up my spine over a guy calling me sweetie. I had to remind myself this was a normal thing in this world. If a man called you sweetie, he was just being nice. If a woman called you sweetie, she was probably trying to get in your pants, unless she was your mother. I turned to him and smiled. I did need his help, unfortunately.
“I’m here to visit my mother. Um… I don’t remember where she works.” I admitted.
“Oh, poor dear.” He pursed his lips. “I might be able to help if you can give me their name.”
I gave him our last name and he typed in the computer for a bit. “Ah… it looks like they’re on the third floor. You can just head on up. It’s suite 301.”
“Thank you,” I said, taking the information he had written on the back of a card.
I pressed the button and awkwardly fled the lobby where the guy was still smiling at me sweetly. Men in this world smiled far too much. It probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much if their smiles didn’t come off so phony. It didn’t bother me when it was women acting this way, but the more I dealt with the fakeness of men, the more I started to dislike them. The few guys I had dealt with, namely the ones dating my sisters, had all been bastards. Wait! Was this why women were always catty to each other in my world?
I decided not to think about it too much. I didn’t have a lot of male friends even when men were men. It was probably just something I was carrying over from before the change. I checked the card. It turned out the name of the business was Diremon Meds. I wasn’t even close.
The elevator door opened and I ended up in a long-carpeted hallway. I quickly found the suite, which opened up into a surprisingly large office space. Most of it was open concept, with cubicles and desks scattered around, but there were also a few closets and offices in the back. Overall, the place mom worked was surprisingly large.
The office was mostly empty, but that made sense as it was a Saturday. My eyes gravitated immediately in a certain direction because I could hear someone yelling. They appeared to be in one of the side office rooms, so I couldn’t hear the words clearly, but their muffled words sounded angry. I cautiously walked in that direction. I didn’t want to interrupt someone, especially someone who was in an argument, but I wanted to make sure that guy told me the right office room. As I approached the yelling became clearer, and I noticed the door was wide open.
“Don’t waste any more of my time with that bullshit!” I heard a woman yell just as my eyes landed on my mother.
“Yes, ma’am.” Mother responded docile, although her expression was filled with thunderclouds.
She wasn’t the one yelling, but the one being yelled at. She was standing there with her eyes open staring straight ahead as another woman was berating her. As if she could feel my eyes on her, she immediately glanced in my direction. When she saw me, her head turned and her eyes widened. I couldn’t see them from my place outside the doorway, but they must have noticed mom’s action.
“What are you looking at? Who is it?” The person in the room snapped.
I shouldn’t have come up. It turned out I saw my mother being yelled at by her boss, and also caught their attention. I could cause a lot of trouble for her. I regretted it immediately.
“I-I’m sorry…” Mom’s attention snapped back to her boss. “It’s my son.”
Should I say anything or let mom handle it? In the end, I decided to step forward and part my head in the door. Part of the reason for this was simply because I wanted to see this person who was screaming at my mom. They gave me an immediate bad impression of them. I looked in to see a woman sitting behind her desk. I was surprised to see she was younger than my mom. She was a blond-haired woman in a dress suit. She regrettably wasn’t ugly, although she had a slim physique and sort of reminded me of a lawyer.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.” I apologized, hoping that this would keep mom from getting into more trouble.
The woman’s eyes fell on me, and then the frown on her face disappeared. It was followed immediately by one of those fake smiles. At least, in this case, it wasn’t plastered to some guy’s face, although I found it strangely creepy when it came from this girl, especially after I had just heard her yelling at mom.
“Oh? I’m sorry. I didn’t know you had a son? Didn’t you have daughters?”
“I-I have six daughters. This is my only son.” Mother declared, her words coming off just a bit stiff.
“Oh?” Her smile increased. “Well, you have a very cute son. I’m your mother’s boss, Ms. Dean.”
“Hello,” I responded, feeling just as awkward as my mother. “Um… Noah.”
“Noah, what a cute name.” She winked at me. “What are you doing here today, Noah?”
“It’s my fault!” I said a bit too fast. “Um… I’m volunteering nearby and wanted to have lunch with mom. I’m a bit early though.”
“Early? Nah…” She laughed as if he made a joke. “You’re absolutely fine. Your mother can take her lunch early.”
“Really?” Mom sounded surprised.
“Of course! How can I let you stand up such a fine little gentleman as this? Where are you volunteering?”
I glanced at mom, but she didn’t give me any indication, so I just remained truthful. “I’m helping build a house down the street with my little sister.”
“Building a house? Ai… young boys these days working like that. I’m more of a traditional girl. I like a man who stays at home and cooks for me.
“I can cook.” I didn’t know why I said that so defensively.
“Oh?” She raised an eyebrow at my mom. “Looks like you’ve been raising your son right… even though you’re husband left you.”
“I do my best,” Mom responded shortly. “I will get those reports to you once I get back from lunch.”
Ms. Dean smiled. “Take your time.”
Mom turned to me and grabbed my hand, practically yanking me out the door. She dragged me a few aisles over where there was a desk. I immediately noticed images on it. The images were of our family, however, I noticed that more than half of the images were of me! She had six daughters, but her one son made up the majority of the images. I didn’t know what to say to that. Mom quickly signed out of her computer and quickly grabbed her coat and things. She seemed agitated.
“I’m sorry.” I immediately apologized.
Mom looked up at me and then blinked. “Honey, you did nothing wrong. Rather, I’m sorry you had to see that.”
“It’s fine,” I responded. “Rather, your boss…”
“She a scumbag.” Her eyes narrowed, but a second later she rose on her tippy toes and looked around, making sure that her boss didn’t hear before coughing. “Ah… just ignore her. She’s my problem to deal with.”
I wasn’t very comfortable with some random person yelling or berating my mom, but there didn’t seem to be much that I could do about it. Trying to see it from a man’s perspective, I decided the best thing to do was not remind her of it. If she was like a guy, then she wanted to handle it herself and didn’t want others to get involved with her problem.
“Where are we going to eat?”
“Oh… I don’t know. There is a small Chinese place across the street. They have decent soup. Mm! That’s right, where is your sister?”
“Ah!” I grabbed the walkie-talkie from my pocket just to make sure I still had it. “Um, she got caught with work. They let me go early, but she said she’d let me know what she was available.”
“Oh…” Mom responded simply. “Well, I guess it’s good she’s working hard. Not like that lazy Kristy.”
“That’s true.” I nodded in agreement.
Kristy did like to lie around all day if she had the chance. She finished packing up and after clicking off her monitor, she led the way out of the office with familiarity.
“Speaking of which, why didn’t you just call me on my cellphone. I would have come pick you up at the site.” When I gave her a flat look, she chuckled. “You just wanted to see your mommy at work, huh?”
That wasn’t exactly it. I did think of calling her, but I was worried that I would get her in trouble if I called while she was busy. She had once lectured us to only use her number at work if it was an emergency. Plus, I had a distinct feeling that Bethany didn’t want to see her mom at all. She probably wasn’t going to come to lunch with us at all. I didn’t know why, but I had that feeling. The elevator took us down to the lobby, and as we were walking to the door, a voice called out.
“Oh? This is your mother?” He sounded surprised.
“Hmm?” Mom turned. “Oh, Steven, hi!”
“H-hello…” He responded, looking away slightly.
“Did you help my son earlier?”
“Um… yeah… I didn’t recognize your name before, so I probably wasn’t much help.” He responded sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck.
“It’s fine. He was able to find me just fine.” She declared, patting my shoulder. “Well, see you later.”
“Y-you’re leaving?” He held out a hand like he was surprised by this.
“I’m taking my son to lunch,” Mom responded. “Just across the street.”
“Oh, is that Won’s? I’ve never been there.” He bit his lip. “I’d love for a girl to take me there some time.”
Mom laughed. “Well, I’m sure there are tons of women dying to take a guy like you out.”
“You think?” He looked at mom in a way I didn’t like at all.
“Of course!” Mom gave him a big smile, and he blushed.
“Th-then… I’ll wait eagerly.”
Mom gave him a wave and then continued out the door. As soon as we were on the sidewalk, I shot her a look.
“What was that?”
“Hm?” She glanced back at me. “What was what?”
“Why were you flirting with that guy?” I demanded.
“Huh?” She blinked. “We weren’t flirting.”
“That was flirting! He was all over you!”
“He’s half my age! He probably just thinks I’m some old woman.” Mom declared.
“Are you kidding me? All that talk about wanting to go out? He was practically begging you to ask him.”
Mom seemed to think the conversation was funny and only laughed. “Maybe your mom can still kick it with the gentlemen, eh?”
“Although, it has been a long time.”
She wrapped her arms around me and hugged me, still chuckling. “Relax. You’re the only man in my life.”
Although she said that, I was still concerned. If she really wasn’t having such urges, could I accept her being with another guy? If she needed such things taken care of, would I need to be the one to do it?